Walter Benjamin was one of the most original cultural critics of the twentieth century. Illuminationsincludes his views on Kafka, with whom he felt a close personal affinity; his studies on Baudelaire and Proust; and his essays on Leskov and on Brecht’s Epic Theater. Also included are his penetrating study “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” an enlightening discussion of translation as a literary mode, and Benjamin’s theses on the philosophy of history.
Hannah Arendt selected the essays for this volume and introduces them with a classic essay about Benjamin’s life in dark times. Also included is a new preface by Leon Wieseltier that explores Benjamin’s continued relevance for our times.
“From the evidence of this book I would suggest that Benjamin was one of the great European writers of this century.” — Philip Toynbee Observer “He explained the modern with an authority that fifty years of unpredictable change have not vitiated.” — Frank Kermode New York Review of Books “Like Baudelaire, Benjamin brings the very new into shocking conjunction with the very old…He is in search of a surrealist history and politics, one which clings tenaciously to the fragment, the miniature, the stray citation, but which impacts these fragments one upon the other to politically explosive effect, like the Messiah who will transfigure the world completely by making minor adjustments to it” — Terry Eagleton The Ideology of the Aesthetic